Friday, December 7, 2007
Carlisle Comments Why wash and wear?
Does anyone remember the days before wash and wear? How many people starch and iron shirts today? Let me tell you about it. This is how I was taught.
First, you wash, in hot water, a 100% cotton shirt. Then you put starch on the collar and cuffs as well and down the front where the button holes are. Then you hang the thing on the clothes line to dry. Have I lost you yet? This creates the most amazing mess of wrinkles you have ever seen. After drying, you sprinkle the shirt with water, wrap it in an towel, and put it into the refrigerator until it is thoroughly damp. This slightly relaxes the wrinkles and makes a uniformly moist surface with which to work.
Now for the fun part. Using a hot iron, which you have to spit on to make sure it is hot enough, you are ready to begin. Remember, this is before the days of steam irons. The first part of the shirt to be ironed in the back side of the collar. This does two things, if the iron is too hot, it hides the scorch mark, and it prepares the visible front side for ironing. Turn the collar over and press the top side, being careful to pull on the seams so that you don't have any puckering, or add in any pressed in wrinkles which would mean that you would have to dampen and try again. This same process is continued on the cuffs and the back side of the pocket and the front part of the shirt where the buttons and button holes are located. The yoke is next. Keep it flat, either by doubling it back onto the shirt or straight on the ironing board. The collar can stand up straight during this process. Be sure to pull on the material so as to avoid puckering. Iron until these sections are dry. Continue to push down hard on the iron to insure that the wrinkles are all removed.
Next, it is time to do the sleeves on both sides. Again don't pucker and make sure you don't press in any crosswise wrinkles. Also don't create a double crease on the sleeve, that a sure sign of a really poor ironing job. Once the collar, cuffs, button area, back side of the pocket and the sleeves are done, you can actually start the main part of the shirt. Usually one begins with the left- hand front of the shirt, placing the top on the small part of the ironing board. Then continue around the shirt, doing the back and then the remaining front section. Again, pull your seams and be careful not to iron in crosswise wrinkles. My aunt used to do this with one of those old flat irons that you had to heat up on the stove.
I haven't mentioned getting the ironing board out, setting it up, and making sure that the surface is smooth and clean. Also the starch used to stick to the iron and cause a dirty spot on the shirt, so people used to shake table salt on the board to clean the salt off the iron. This winter, try ironing five or six shirts a week.
You ask "Why wash and wear?" Need I say more?
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